Five years ago today Cumbria County Council, representing several Lake District and coastal communities, blocked Government attempts to develop a subterranean geologic repository for long-lived radioactive waste.

Last week the Government launched the latest attempts by ministers to resurrect this process, with a new 897 page public consultation, Working with communities: implementing geological disposal.(

Ministers have now decided backing “communities” with significant multi-million pound financial incentives or compensation is the new approach.

In the consultation document, local MP and energy minister Richard Harrington wrote: “We believe the best way to select a site for a geological disposal facility is in partnership with communities.”

He adds “Building and operating a geological disposal facility is a multi-billion pound, intergenerational, national infrastructure project, which is likely to bring substantial benefits to its host community, with skilled jobs for hundreds of people over many decades.”

The document asserts its purpose “is to gather views on how communities should be engaged and represented.”

The Government commits itself to the following policy: “The final decision to site a geological disposal facility in a community will not be taken until there has been a test of public support that demonstrates clear community support for development at a specific site.”

The Government concept is to first identify a relevant ‘search area’ with some local support, and then back a ‘host community.’

The consultation insists that there will be all the usual opportunities for the public to have a say in the process.

The one minor concession that there are wider ‘affected’ communities from such a 100 plus year development comes at Paragraph 4.7, which makes clear that transport links or routes, from the geological disposal facility site to the nearest port, railhead or primary road network will be considered relevant.

A footnote adds: In selecting a site, the ‘delivery body’ would give consideration to existing transport infrastructure, suitable transport modes and routes, and appropriate mitigation measures to minimise any adverse impacts on a community.

But the hundreds of miles of ‘affected communities along road and rail routes from radioactive waste stores, to any centralised repository are being ignored.

Why does the Government believe people living in these communities with multiple loads of radioactive materials coming past where they live for many decades do not deserve significant financial compensation too?

Would Mr Harrington support Watford council inviting nuclear waste to the area? If not, why is he encouraging others to endangers their own local areas?

Dr David Lowry

Senior research fellow

Institute for Resource and Security Studies

Cambridge. Ma. US